Sunday, July 20, 2008

VSL's 2008 Football Preview (Part III: The Schedule)

No SEC schedule is a blessing, but Vanderbilt’s sets up to make a bowl run...that is, if they have a good September. Just like last year, the biggest game of Vanderbilt’s season comes on week 2. This time, Vanderbilt will host Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks for a Thursday night (September 4) tilt on ESPN. Vanderbilt’s game against South Carolina will be their second straight appearance on the ESPN-family of networks in as many weeks as Vanderbilt opens up at Miami of Ohio on August 28 (the same night Senator Obama blesses Jay Cutler’s house with his acceptance speech). If Vanderbilt can beat South Carolina, there is no reason to think they can’t head into October a perfect 4-0. Vanderbilt hosts Rice on September 13, and travels to Ole Miss on September 20. Among the VSL "experts," predictions range from 4-0 to 2-2.

After a week off, Vanderbilt plays host to Auburn October 4. It is just as likely that Vanderbilt is 3-1 as they are 1-3 heading into this game. If they are 1-3 (or 2-2 as Stanimal predicts), look for Larry Smith or Jared Funk to make their debut as a Commodore starter. October 11 sees Vanderbilt traveling to Mississippi State, a game that could be critical depending on Vanderbilt’s September. While the Bulldogs under Croom are much improved, Mississippi State is one of Vanderbilt’s best chances to win an SEC game. Bobby is the only one who sees a win in Starkville, but a win would certainly be less of a surprise if the Commodores take care of business in September.

Next, Vanderbilt travels to Georgia on October 18 for a game that could be a “trap” for Georgia. The Dawgs are favorites of many college football prognosticators. Vanderbilt heads to Athens as the third opponent of a three game home-stand that includes Alabama and Tennessee, before heading to LSU and Jacksonville (for a cocktail party, outdoors, allegedly one of, if not the biggest in the world) to face the Gators in what is being touted by many as THE game of the year. No one could blame Georgia for looking past the Commodores, but after the last two years (Vanderbilt beating UGA on their homecoming in ’06, and Georgia barely sneaking by the Commodores in Nashville last year), VSL does not think Coach Richt will let his team get away with thinking Vanderbilt can be taken lightly, which is why none of us picked this particular upset.

Vanderbilt hosts Duke for Homecoming on October 25 in a game that really should be a win no matter what has transpired before. Duke is supposed to be better, but if the Commodores lose this game, then there really be serious questions as to how far this program has actually come. Which brings us to November. November has been the cruelest month for the Commodores with CBJ’s boys owning a 1-12 record since 2004. This season’s road to the finish is no gentler. After a week off after homecoming, the Commodores travel to Florida on November 8, with trips to Kentucky (November 15) and Wake Forest (November 29) sandwiching the Orange Nation’s trip to Nashville November 22. Seamus and Stanimal see the Commodores getting a win against Kentucky; Woody sees a win at Wake, while Bobby thinks to Commodores will put the death knell in Phil Fulmer's tenure at UT. All the same, no one has Vanderbilt markedly improving their November record.

Despite his better judgment, Bobby is skeptical that this is will be a bowling year. Seamus thinks we make it to 6, probably the Liberty Bowl, on the back of a 6-6 record and a spike in student support. Stanimal, as always, is not convinced 2008 will be any different than the year’s prior. Neither is Woody, but his prediction is even more depressing with another 5-7 in Vanderbilt's future. To have a fighting chance, the Commodores would need a great start early (3-1 or better). Even then, where do the other 3 come from? Absent a perfect September, Duke only gets you to 4 and would still mean beating a few teams that are (at least on paper) legitimately better than the Commodores. The best chances for wins are Mississippi State, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and Tennessee; but the fact that 3 of these 4 come on the road does not portend well. You’ve heard our picks, what are yours? VSL will be compiling your predictions and releasing a run-down of how VSL Nation thinks this season will go. You can either make your predictions in the comments section, or email them to our intern.


Bobby's Picks (7(2) – 5(2))

@ Miami (OH) (Thurs. 8/28 – ESPNU) W
South Carolina (Thurs. 9/4 – ESPN) Toss-Up/W
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) W
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) Toss-up/W
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) Toss-up/L
Tennessee (11/22) Toss-Up/W
@ Wake Forest (11/29) Toss-up/L


Seamus' Picks (6-6)

@ Miami (OH) (Thurs. 8/28 – ESPNU) W
South Carolina (Thurs. 9/4 – ESPN) W
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) W
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) W
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) L

Stanimal's Picks (4-8)

@ Miami (OH) (Thurs. 8/28 – ESPNU) W
South Carolina (Thurs. 9/4 – ESPN) L
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) L
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) W
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) L

Woody's Picks (5-7)

@ Miami (OH) (Thurs. 8/28 – ESPNU) W
South Carolina (Thurs. 9/4 – ESPN) W
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) L
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) L
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) W

7 comments:

Taj said...

@ Miami (OH) (Thurs. 8/28 – ESPNU) W
South Carolina (Thurs. 9/4 – ESPN) W
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) W
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) W
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) L

Douglas James said...

Vandy landed its 6th recuit. TE from Florida Mason Johnston. ESPN doesn't him him in the database but rivals has him as 3star and 43rd overall TE prospect.

Douglas James said...

Miami - W
USC - L
Rice - W
Ole Miss - W
Auburn - L
Miss State - W
Georgia - L
Duke - W
KY - L
UT - L
WF - Win (6 and 6 with a bowl trip)

J.B., M.D. said...

@ Miami (OH) W
South Carolina L
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) L
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) L
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) L

3-9, definitely no bowl game.

Anonymous said...

i see a 4-8 season. wins over miami (oh), rice, and duke for sure. then a surprise (and yes, i consider usc, ole miss, or miss st a big surpirse). maybe bigger but i doubt it. we have potential to win all 3 of those games and even against kentucky and wake. but i just don't see it happening this year. only thing i hope for is more and more vandy fans at home games.

Andrew Banecker said...

@ Miami (OH) W
South Carolina Toss-Up/W
Rice (9/13) W
@ Ole Miss (9/20) Toss-up/W
Auburn (10/4) L
@ Mississippi State (10/11) Toss-up/L
@ Georgia (10/18) L
Duke (10/25) W
Florida (11/8) L
@ Kentucky (11/15) Toss-up/W
Tennessee (11/22) L
@ Wake Forest (11/29) Toss-up/L

In all honesty, I'm seeing a 3-9 season, with the slight possibility of 6-6 if we can take 3 out of the five toss-ups. It all comes down to three things: 1) Can we pass block/run block with the new o-line? 2) Which Nickson shows up/can one of the freshmen (Smith, Funk) step up and be a spark plug to the offense? and 3) Can we stop the inferior run games of the toss-up and favored to win games noted?

Hate to be a pessimist, but I think this is a transition year, where the season will be scrapped by week 9, but am optimistic that Larry Smith can show us something in the last 3-4 games.

Then again, who knows... we could derail either Florida or Georgia's national championship hopes and drink down the sweet sweet tears of unimaginable pain.

Cheers.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Taj is one smart individual. He and I shall be vindicated in due time. Oh yes...we shall.